I’m typing this on New Years Eve and while I’m not a drinker I’m thinking it’s is the perfect day to think of Obama’s Second Term.
New Year’s Eve generally is a binge that ends with big headache and on occasion the company of someone you regret the next morning. That is going to be America circa 2013 all over.
We asked for it, we’re going to get it.
The fiscal cliff deal is coming (UPDATE it has come) and Zachary Goldfard at the Post pointed out a change in one part of the argument that is being ignored.
R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and an architect of the Bush tax cuts, said it is “deeply ironic” for Democrats to favor extending most of them, given what he called their “visceral” opposition a decade ago.
Personally I think they still oppose them, By the time you read this we will know if a deal is struck. I figure the re-imposition of those tax increases in such a way that Republicans can be blamed is a two-fer for democrats and their media allies, but if there is a deal and those tax rates are made permanent somewhere in Texas George Bush will be smiling.
John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman have penned a piece (do people say “penned” anymore?) arguing for our involvement in Syria.
The United States must rally our allies to channel assistance to the newly established Syrian opposition council for distribution in the rebel-held areas. We must provide weapons and other lethal assistance to the opposition military command. And we must impose a no-fly zone in some areas of Syria, to include using the U.S. Patriot missile batteries en route to Turkey, to protect people in northern Syria from Assad’s aerial attacks.
If we remain on the current course, future historians are likely to record the slaughter of innocent Syrians, and the resulting harm done to America’s national interests and moral standing, as a shameful failure of U.S. leadership and one of the darker chapters in our history. That should unsettle us all as we pray for peace and goodwill this holiday season.
I understand the moral argument and it’s a fair point, but on the other end there is the question of aiding an opposition that is highly influenced by Al Qaeda and Islamists. They are likely to bring in a crew as bad or worse as the last bunch.
In for a penny, in for a pound if America goes in it has to be willing to commit the blood and treasure to keep this from happening. Like the fiscal mess with the GOP no matter what America does the Islamists and the left will blame us, so we should do what is in our best interests and, despite the crisis, I think our best interests to not intervene in Syria.
Slightly related I found this absolutely hilarious:
Essam al-Erian, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, called on Egyptian Jews to leave Israel to the Palestinians and return to their own homeland…
..”Egyptian Jews should refuse to live under a brutal, bloody and racist occupation stained with war crimes against humanity,” Erian said.
I think Egyptian Jews totally agree, that’s why they are living in Israel instead of Egypt.
I find one aspect of the entire Gun debate pretty odd:
Given as stipulated [for the sake of argument] the vast majority of the right is one step away from the cliff of slaughter, might saying: “Next year we’ve coming for your guns” less than two weeks after Andrew Cuomo said “Confiscation could be an option“, be the push to send a bunch of heavily armed Chick-Fil-A eating psychopaths over the edge?
It’s gasoline on a fire ready to engulf the country in flames with only the police, the army and power of the presidency to hold back the impending holocaust of good and decent Obama voters.
Liberals, be afraid, be VERY afraid…
If the gun owners were as dangerous and as scary as our liberal friends tell us, those same liberals would not risk provoking them this way.
Strangely enough those same liberals have no problem keeping silent about Islamists who oppress women and slaughter gays.
As Rush Limbaugh said, the left will always tell you who they fear…
Meanwhile speaking of the left
The privileged daughter of a prominent city doctor, and her boyfriend — a Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist — have been busted for allegedly having a cache of weapons and a bombmaking explosive in their Greenwich Village apartment.
Morgan Gliedman — who is nine-months pregnant — and her baby daddy, Aaron Greene, 31, also had instructions on making bombs, including a stack of papers with a cover sheet titled, “The Terrorist Encyclopedia,’’ sources told The Post yesterday.
I suspect this will get very little play doesn’t fit the template. Maybe in twenty years they will serve in congress as reps from NY, after all in case you haven’t noticed from the Black Panthers to the mentors of Obama Ayers and Dorn the left always seems to embrace their terrorists.
Speaking of the left and terrorists here is some news out of Saudi Arabia
Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.
The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country’s strict religious code.
Why do I get the feeling an awful lot of folks on the left would love to do the same here?
Some sports? The Washington Redskins (5 -11 last year) took the NFC East with a win over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend. The Indianapolis Colts (2-14 last year) won 11 games and picked up the #5 seed in the AFC North.
On twitter somebody sent out the list of predictions for this year from ESPN’s experts. While the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants were all picked by people to win the division (in fact two “experts” picked the Dallas and Philly respectively to win the Superbowl, not a single person had either Indy or Washington going this far.
The Jets weren’t on any playoff lists but because of the acquisition of Tim Tebow they were all over the media. When Jeff Sanchez tanked NY rather than start Tebow went with 3rd stringer Greg McElroy. When he went down with an injury before the final game they pleased Tebow haters everywhere by putting Sanchez behind center one last time for one last loss.
One might wonder what harm It would have done for Tebow to start the final game, the answer is simple: What would they say if he won? That 10th loss is a small price to pay to avoid the embarrassment of Tim Tebow succeeding even slightly.
Just a reminder, Tim Tebow got the Broncos to the 2nd round of the playoffs last year, as of right now that’s the same place where Peyton Manning has them.
Of course compared to the entire NHL the Jets are a bunch of geniuses. At least they had the brains to play the season and get everyone paid. In an era of 24/7 entertainment and sports you don’t want to remind people they can do without you.
Finally the Doctor Who Christmas special was excellent, the plot interesting, the setup for the next season really worked and the new credits reminded me of a combination of the credits for Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor) & Tom Baker (4th).
My one issue? I’m getting sick of the constant “Gay Marriage” messages. It’s become obligatory to the point where it’s odd if there isn’t a married lesbian lizard lady in Victorian London, or a Horse in the old west renamed “Susan” from Joshua whose life choices we needed to respect, or ”thin/fat gay married Anglican marines.“ It’s almost as bad as the constant time paradoxes lately but in fairness those only became ubiquitous when Moffat became head writer.
Let give everyone a quick history lesson from 1989:
“The idea of bringing politics into Doctor Who was deliberate, but we had to do it very quietly and certainly didn’t shout about it,” said McCoy….Sophie Aldred, who played Ace, the Doctor’s feminist companion, said a shared contempt for right-wing ideology had inspired “a real bonding process” for cast and crew.
I’m not the first to notice, but let me say this: When the writing goes bad and there were some signs of that in series 6, expect them to go all social issues all the time because when the ideas run out there is always the agenda.
It killed off Dr. Who once, let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
Happy New Year all.
As Rumors Swirl Around the Speakers Ouster, Conservatives Need to Remember that the Constitution does not require that the Speaker be an elected Member of Congress, but no non-member has ever been elected to the office. Knowing this, I think it’s time we “Think Outside of the Box” and elect a new speaker from outside of congress…
John Boehner could be in for a fight Thursday when the newly seated House votes for the next speaker, with conservatives grumbling about his leadership and a report surfacing about a supposed plan to challenge him.
The 11-term congressman, who’s endured his share of political turbulence, presumably enters the election with the upper hand. So far, a single viable Republican challenger has not emerged and the rules of the vote tend to work in Boehner’s favor.
But Boehner’s potential troubles were compounded by a late-night flare up with outraged northeast lawmakers over a decision by the speaker to postpone a vote on an aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims.
For the near term, the speaker appears to have weathered those complaints, assuring members in a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon they will vote by Jan. 15. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., who initially described the postponement as a “betrayal” and threatened to abstain from voting for Boehner, said after the meeting he would back Boehner.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who earlier lashed out at the GOP leadership in a string of interviews and remarks, said the same.
But a spate of other flare-ups over the past several days and weeks among House Republicans has stoked threats about resistance — or at least some drama — Thursday. Conservatives were already miffed that Boehner, early on in talks over the fiscal crisis, had agreed to new revenue. Boehner suffered another blow two weeks ago when his “Plan B” fiscal bill failed to garner enough Republican backers. But the final fiscal-crisis bill, which arrived from the Senate early Tuesday morning, ultimately garnered thin support from the GOP ranks. While Boehner and 84 other Republicans voted for it, 151 Republicans opposed it — more Democrats than Republicans voted for the bill.
Originally posted Center for Security Policy By Frank Gaffney, Jr.
Members of the United States Senate are surely tempted to give their insufferably arrogant colleague from Massachusetts a pass in confirmation hearings for his nomination to become the next Secretary of State. Quite apart from the tradition of senatorial courtesy practiced in the exclusive club once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” most of them must be anxious to see John Kerry leave it.
There are, however, compelling reasons to resist this temptation and ensure that Sen. Kerry is subjected to rigorous scrutiny with respect to his past conduct, his judgment and his policy predilections.
Conventional wisdom holds that he is certain to be confirmed. Whether that proves to be the case or not, Senators have a duty to serve as the Framers had in mind– as a means of ensuring quality control with respect to cabinet-level and other senior presidential appointments and with respect to the treaties that a secretary of state in particular is wont to promote.
A number of topics cry out for such scrutiny. Herewith a few of the more important:
For starters, there is the question of John Kerry’s integrity. His conduct during and immediately his service in the Vietnam War– much of it compellingly documented by his former comrades-in-arms in the Swift Boat community– suggests a serious deficit in this personal quality. Senators could usefully revisit Mr. Kerry’s damning indictments of the U.S. military’s conduct of the war, including his depiction of its alleged “war crimes,” his fraudulent Winter Soldier testimony and his treating with the North Vietnamese enemy in the midst of hostilities.
Mr. Obama also observed that Sen. Kerry will not require “a lot of on the job training” because of his extensive dealings with foreign leaders, including in his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Among those with whom he has consorted are Syrian despot Basher Assad and Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolutionaries during their conflict with the United States in the 1980s. As the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady put it last week: “Mr. Kerry’s record of promoting American values abroad is dismal. It isn’t that he opposes U.S. intervention – far from it. The trouble is that he has a habit of intervening on behalf of bad guys.”
As Jim Kouri of the Law Enforcement Examiner pointed out recently, Senator Kerry has also been suspected by the FBI of problematic dealings with the Communist Chinese. Kouri cites revelations by Judicial Watch in 2004 based on government records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The investigative organization’s president, Tom Fitton, said: “These disturbing FBI documents raise further questions about Sen. Kerry’s involvement in what looks like a quid pro quo (cash for meetings) with the Communist Chinese.”
Senators will want to examine closely John Kerry’s promotion of the United Nations and various treaties that would increase its stature, influence and/or power at the expense of U.S. sovereignty. Cases in point are his support for the Disabilities Convention recently rejected by the Senate, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty rejected by it in 1999 and the Law of the Sea Treaty that Senators may reject this year.
Because the Senate has actually been performing its constitutional quality control function with respect to such defective accords, there is growing concern that the Obama administration may pursue its goal of denuclearizing the United States through unilateral action. As John Bolton and John Yoo observed in the Wall Street Journal, a Secretary Kerry would likely support the findings of
a State Department advisory group headed by former Defense Secretary William Perry suggest[ing] that Mr. Obama ignore Congress. Its November report urges that America and Russia reciprocally reduce nuclear weapons without any international agreement: ‘Unilateral and coordinated reductions can be quicker and less politically costly… relative to treaties with adversarial negotiations and difficult ratification processes.’”
Senators should seize this chance to make clear their strong objection to such a strategically reckless and constitutionally unacceptable disarmament strategy.
Speaking of the Constitution, the Kerry nomination would be a good time for a debate about the Obama administration’s practice of dispensing with its requirements. A December 30th op.ed. by a law school professor at Georgetown published in the New York Times under the controversial title “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” seems to track with the practice of the former law school professor at Chicago who is now president of the United States.
Of particular concern is a priority of Mr. Obama and the outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – namely their efforts to appease Islamists determined to circumscribe our First Amendment right to free expression. Will John Kerry as America’s top diplomat continue to pursue this agenda in the so-called “Istanbul Process,” or stand up for our sovereignty and freedoms?
The Kerry confirmation process offers an opportunity to examine both the nominee’s fitness to serve in high office and the security policies President Obama and he will be pursuing, all other things being equal. This chance must not be squandered in the interest of realizing as quickly as possible his colleagues’ understandable desire to get John Kerry out of the Senate.
(Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.)
It certainly looks that way. The most striking thing about the tax hike was the holiday rush. (Of course, that’s how Obamacare made it through the Senate in 2009, on Christmas Eve no less.)
Let’s face it. The American people voted for a tax hike when they re-elected Barack Obama and gave him a Democratic Senate. There’s not too much the GOP can do with just one branch of the legislature, especially when the other branch colludes with the White House to wage a classic class warfare campaign, abetted by the usual suspects in the media. The sequestration strategy depended on a complete GOP victory in 2012. In retrospect, it would have been better for Speaker Boehner to initiate the showdown in 2011 fresh from the big GOP win in 2010, with an energized base ready to fight on principle. Trying to cut a deal in December 2012, with a fresh Obama win and a demoralized base- you didn’t need a Ouija board to predict how that was going to turn out.
Still, one could have done something. The media acted as if all hell would break lose at 12:01 AM on New Year’s Day in the absence of a deal. That was nonense. People were paid through year-end. Increased withholding wouldn’t have taken place until the first paychecks of 2013 were cut, and that would have been mid-January for most people. The government could have muddled through for some days. Team Boehner could have sunk the McConnell package in the House and used the time to bargain for more spending constraints, making the Democrats sweat for a change and salvaging the Republican brand. Alas, a lost opportunity.
There are silver linings. The tax hikes are not as bad as those desired by the far left. Even the Democrats backed away from the ridiculous assertion that an income of $250,000 makes one “rich”. The estate tax threshold stayed at 5 million instead of dropping to a catastrophic level for small business owners. The Alternative Minimum Tax threat has been neutralized for the time being. The tax hike that will hit most Americans is the restoration of two percentage points shaved off the Social Security tax. Given the wobbly state of Social Security’s long term solvency, that cut was pandering by the political classes at its worst and one should not cry over it. Most important, the combination of higher marginal rates and lower deductions will hit those pricey, affluent blue states the hardest. There is some justice in this world.
But make no mistake about it- this deal has damaged the Republican party, and is another indication that leadership changes are imperative in Congress. The sooner, the better.
NEXT 9/11: IRAN’S DEATH SQUAD IS HERE
Team infiltrated, assigned to attack from within next year
by REZA KAHLILI
Reza Kahlili served in CIA Directorate of Operations, as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, counterterrorism expert; currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board authorized by Congress. He is the author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” and regularly appears in national and international media as an expert on Iran and counterterrorism in the Middle East. More
Iran has infiltrated a team of Quds Force terrorist leaders into the United States to attack from within in 2013, according to a source.
The source within the office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic regime, said the team is to create instability in America through terrorism should the U.S. fail to accept the regime’s illicit nuclear program, increase sanctions, confront Iran militarily or intervene in the Syrian civil war.
Members of the team, no more than 10 Quds Force officers, each lead cells totaling about 50 terrorists already in the U.S.
The source is risking his life not only to reveal the terror operation but to warn that Iran is pursuing its nuclear bomb program around the clock from several secret sites.
Details of the terror plot, meant to disrupt the West, have been passed on to U.S. officials, who are taking countermeasures.
The source said the team members, unlike the alleged Iranian operative Manssor Arbabsiar, who was arrested in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. in 2011, are highly trained and sophisticated.
The team leaders are all senior Revolutionary Guard officers who were recruited for this specific mission nine years ago on the recommendation of the Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, and with the approval of security advisers to Khamenei.
Some of these individuals held high-level posts before joining the mission. One served as the security officer in the supreme leader’s office, another was a member of the special forces for intelligence and security in charge of protecting regime officials, two were in charge of security of ground and air transportation, another was a commander of recruiting assets, and others had experience in security and intelligence.
Most of the team members have been in America for a year; a few were successfully placed here about five years ago.
The families of the team members are financially supported by the regime, but team members are financially supported through various means as they do not maintain any contact with Iran.
Two wealthy Iranian businessmen in Iran with ties in Europe are used to finance the team; one routinely travels to the U.S.
One well-established Iranian businessman in America who often travels to Iran was approached by the Quds Force for his collaboration in return for incentives in Iran. He acts as the sponsor of the team, transfers cash to team members, hosts meetings at his residence and passes on information from the regime to the team. He also takes care of any legal issues, leases, contracts and such.
Information and pictures of potential targets have been submitted for Khamenei’s approval, the source added. They include high-voltage towers to create blackouts, cell towers, water supplies, public transportation and various other buildings belonging to the Defense Department and military.
The source said the planned attacks could be greater than what happened on 9/11 and that in the last phase of the attack, al-Qaida operatives will also be involved.
After Osama bin Laden’s death, Khamenei has taken a greater role in leadership on the collaboration with al-Qaida, and according to the source, four top al-Qaida commanders visit Khamenei every two months.
The plan is that if by next six months America does not accept Iran’s nuclear program and either increases sanctions or a military confrontation occurs, the assets have been ordered to carry out their mission. The regime feels it must act by then because current sanctions, which have already had a serious effect on Iran’s economy, could spark civilian rioting.
As reported in the Washington Times on Oct. 5, a secret memo by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry warned that deteriorating economic conditions from international sanctions had greatly increased the possibility of an uprising and urged them to take appropriate action.
The United States has set a March deadline for Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency demands on its nuclear program or face much harsher measures.
The regime believes, the source said, that if the U.S. fails to accept Iran’s nuclear program, Israel will be much more likely to attack its nuclear facilities and military installations.
Previously an exclusive report in WND revealed that terror cells of the Islamic regime were on high alert to attack targets in America. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, deputy head of Iran’s armed forces, stated that, “In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, no place in America will be safe from our attacks.”
Iranian officials also see the possible overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad as a red line, and with the looming confrontation over their nuclear program, they have taken several measures, one of which is to retaliate against Israel through several fronts and in coordination with their proxies, such as Hezbollah. As reported in WND, 170 ballistic missiles have been pre-targeted on Tel Aviv alone, some with biological warheads. And an attack on America from within would create economic havoc on the fragile U.S. economy.
The source warned that the IAEA has no idea that the Islamic regime is actively working on its nuclear bomb program at secret sites, that it has even enriched uranium to over 90 percent – weaponization grade – and that with the help of North Korea, it is working on a plutonium bomb.
The assumption that Iran is far from accomplishing its goals is a hoax, the source warned. The regime next year will make operational intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. Armed with nuclear weapons, it would be too late for the world, he said.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).
If we’ve learned anything from the continuing, government-manufactured financial crises that have become a seemingly favorite sport for the political class it’s that we need to replace our antiquated tax code of punishing a rapidly decreasing labor force in this country in favor for a modernized tax code that makes sense, takes the onus off of labor, and eliminates all direct federal taxes on citizens.
What is The Neutral Tax?
The Neutral Tax is a flat, federal tax on gross state government revenue
Benefits of The Neutral Tax
- Eliminates the federal government’s micromanagement of tax policy
- Compatible with most other tax reform proposals (implemented at the state level)
- Enables each state to design its preferred tax structure
- Eliminates the federal monopoly on tax policy
- Eliminates all direct federal taxes on citizens
- Eliminates the IRS as we know it
- Makes repeal of the 16th Amendment (the federal income tax) practical
- Eases future tax reform efforts — no more decades of debate
- Integrates federal, state and local taxation policies
- Makes the US more competitive internationally
- Inherently non-partisan policy makes it easier to enact with bipartisan support
The Neutral Tax is deceptively simple. It eliminates all current federal taxes on citizens and businesses (including federal income, payroll, personal income, unemployment, corporate, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, self-employment, gasoline, etc.) and replaces them with a singular flat tax on the gross revenue of each state government (including all local taxes and fees)
Additional information available in The Neutral Tax FAQ [here].
Read The Neutral Tax White Paper
Sound interesting? The Neutral Tax White Paper below explains The Neutral Tax in more detail:
How Will the Transition to The Neutral Tax Impact Each State?
Since the Neutral Tax is not in effect yet, each state currently differs as to how much of their tax burden goes to the state vs. federal government. Under The Neutral Tax, every state will be paying the same percentage of their revenue to the federal government; for some states, that will be less than they pay now, and for other states it will be more. It is up to the state to determine how these differences are allocated among their citizens and businesses. The federal government could also ease the transition by offering temporary tax rebates that decline over time to states that pay more under the new method.
Here is a list by state showing the current federal tax burden and how it will change under The Neutral Tax:
This solutions is unique in that it allows for states to adopt a tax system that works best for it’s citizens… as I support a consumption tax and was a huge proportionate of the 9-9-9 tax plan, The Neutral Tax allows individual states to move into a consumption tax structure (if they choose) that will increase revenue while relieving the heavy tax burden it’s citizens currently carry. It’s defiantly worth serious consideration.
Talk Is Cheap, Overspending Is Not
Bankrupting America Begins New Year With Major Spending Reduction Campaign
Arlington, Va. – Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, announced today a new campaign, “Talk is Cheap, Overspending is Not,” holding Washington lawmakers accountable for promises to cut wasteful spending and get America’s debt and deficits under control. The campaign will feature advertising at Capitol South and Union Station metro stops in Washington, D.C., as well as online advertising.
Bankrupting America will use quotes from the current and former presidents and key members of Congress to remind them in their own words of the importance of reducing the deficit and reining in government spending. The “Talk is Cheap, Overspending is Not” campaign will continue throughout the month with several additional initiatives yet to be announced.
Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, issued the following statement on the campaign:
“In the wake of the fiscal cliff fiasco and the prelude to the debt ceiling debate, now is the time to remind our leaders in Washington of their promises. We’ve heard the talking points and no longer believe them. We’ve grown tired of the posturing and fear the seemingly constant game of political chicken. In 2008, then-candidate Obama said, ‘Don’t tell me words don’t matter,’ and we couldn’t agree more. Our message is simple: talk is cheap, overspending is not.”
Online, the ads highlight the “Talk is Cheap, Overspending is Not,” tagline, while the metro ads take advantage of the amount of physical space available to tell a well-rounded story. Quotes from history that have since been proven falsehoods sit next to quotes from our leaders about solving our fiscal troubles – clearly illustrating that those words have also not amounted to much. Pillars in the space have been turned into graphs that show our history of debt, overspending, and our inability to consistently pass a budget. Also scattered throughout the stops are ads featuring the hashtag #talkischeap, encouraging viewers to tweet about what crazy promises they’ll follow through on if Washington actually balances the budget this year. We’ll be highlighting the top tweets on the frontpage of BankruptingAmerica.org.
Our campaign will continue for the whole month, and we have some fun, yet to-be-announced initiatives in the pipeline, so sign-up for email alerts to stay current and join the fight to reduce our deficits, reform entitlements and save our children from a mountain of debt!
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it “a happy start to a new year.” That probably tells you all you need to know about the fiscal cliff deal that passed the House last night.
The bill—which President Obama has promised to sign, though he took off for Hawaii again after the vote—has a 10 to 1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts. This is the President’s version of a “balanced” approach.
In addition to tax increases on Americans making more than $250,000 a year, the bipartisan deal will actually raise taxes on the vast majority of American workers. How? The payroll tax “holiday” has ended. The Wall Street Journal calculates that the “typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year” will lose “an annual income boost of $1,000.”
Meanwhile, the higher tax rates will hit small businesses and investors—which is grim news for a country in need of new jobs.
“It is the small businesses that employ the most workers who will pay the higher rates,” explains Heritage’s Curtis Dubay. “These tax hikes on investment will further dampen investment and result in even less job creation. This is more bad news for the 12 million unemployed Americans.”
While the President touted a “balance” of tax hikes and spending cuts, the truth is that the bill increases government spending by about $330 billion.
Though Congress and the President have known for two years that they would have to do something about all the expiring tax rates, they waited until after the deadline had passed. This resulted in lawmaking for which “irresponsible” is not a strong enough word.
The Senate voted without knowing the cost of the bill—the Congressional Budget Office had not even had time to go through it.
The legislation passed both chambers of Congress within a 24-hour period on a holiday, which meant that Members of Congress—much less the American people—did not have time to find out what was in the 157-page bill.
Business Insider notes that all of the new tax rates are “‘permanent,’ meaning that Congress would have to agree to change them. This is a big deal. Almost every fiscal agreement reached by Congress since the Bush tax cuts of 2001 has been scheduled to phase out at a future date.”
After all the damage this deal has done, Congress isn’t through yet. Well, this Congress is—the outgoing lawmakers make their exit on Thursday, and the new Congress will be coming in. It will face the real consequences of the across-the-board budget cuts to defense known as sequestration, which this deal postponed for two months.
It will also face the U.S. debt limit. President Obama said last night that he is in no mood to get into another debt limit fight—even though that is inevitable.
“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they will pay the bills they’ve already racked up,” Obama said.
But that debate is coming. This time, rather than grandstanding, Obama must deliver on his promise of a “balanced approach,” now that he has locked in his class warfare tax hikes. That means reforms to rein in entitlement spending in particular. The $650 billion fiscal cliff distracted from the $48 trillion looming fiscal crisis—the long-term funding obligations of Social Security and Medicare.
Without spending cuts and real entitlement reforms, that fiscal iceberg remains dead ahead.
- Many conservatives have publicly criticized the fiscal cliff deal.
- New year, new laws! More than 29,000 new laws were passed by state legislatures in 2012 and are now in effect.
- The New York Times’s China correspondent had to leave the country after the Chinese government did not renew his visa.
- At the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA, yesterday, a soldier hidden aboard a parade float surprised his wife and son with his homecoming.
- Listen online to Istook Live!, the radio show of former Congressman Ernest Istook, broadcasting from The Heritage Foundation every weekday from 9 a.m.-noon ET.
Spending Daily | January 2, 2013
New Campaign: Talk is Cheap, Overspending is Not
Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, announced today a new campaign, “Talk is Cheap, Overspending is Not,” holding Washington lawmakers accountable for promises to cut wasteful spending and get America’s debt and deficits under control. The campaign features advertising at Capitol South and Union Station metro stops in Washington, D.C., as well as online advertising. Bankrupting America uses quotes from the current and former presidents and key members of Congress to remind them in their own words of the importance of reducing the deficit and reining in government spending. Click here to view a sample of the ads.
Fiscal Cliff Deal “will do little to address the nation’s long-term debt problem”
The Washington Post editorializes, “The compromise bill passed by Congress to avert the worst effects of the ‘fiscal cliff’ is a small, imperfect package that will do too little to address the nation’s long-term debt problem. But for all its weaknesses, the bill’s enactment is far better than a failure by this Congress to act before it adjourns Thursday. Most important, the deal will delay the ill-targeted and unwise spending cuts known as sequestration and cancel sharp tax increases for most Americans. … Yet despite these desirable structural changes, the deal will not reduce future deficits much, even though Congress engineered the fiscal cliff to force ambitious budget reform.”
“Analysis: 77% of Households to See Tax Increase”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “The fiscal cliff bill’s impact would be far-reaching for American taxpayers, and particularly painful for very high-income households, according to a new analysis. About 77% of American households would see a tax increase compared to their 2012 tax levels, according to the analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. The biggest impact for most households comes from the expiration of a two-percentage-point payroll-tax break that existed for 2011 and 2012. It basically hits all working people.”
“112th Congress legacy: Unfinished business”
Jonathan Allen writes in Politico, “The 112th Congress came in with a bang, but it is crawling out with the soft whimper of failure. For two years, President Barack Obama and Congress ignored virtually every other pressing matter to engage in an ideological war over the size of government and who should foot the bill for it. They racked up more processes than policies: a blue-ribbon White House commission, Vice President Joe Biden’s working group, bilateral talks between Obama and Speaker John Boehner, a ‘supercommittee,’ a ‘Gang of Six’ that became a ‘Gang of Eight’ and, finally, Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) coming to a deal that leaves open as many politically thorny issues as it solves. They didn’t even hit their deadline. … The deal also sets up yet another budgetary Armageddon in March, when Congress and the president will have to deal with raising the debt ceiling, the hanging sword of sequestration cuts and the expiration of federal spending authority.”
California to Give Away Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Free Cell Phones
The Washington Guardian reports, “California is becoming the latest state to participate in a federal program that gives away hundreds of millions of dollars of free cell phones with prepaid service to indigent and homeless residents. After four years of navigating bureaucratic red tape, California recently hired a vendor to take on the job of offering the pre-paid cell phones to an estimated 4.6 million eligible residents. At an average cost of $100 per phone, the tab in the Golden State alone could eventually reach $460 million annually.”
AP: Economists Disappointed Deal Fails To Reduce The Deficit
The Associated Press reports, “A last-minute deal will keep the U.S. from driving off the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ but higher taxes and continued political fighting in Washington threaten to shake the fragile economy well into 2013. … Many economists were disappointed that Congress and the White House couldn’t reach agreement on a broader deal to significantly reduce the deficit over the next 10 years. That could have boosted business and consumer confidence and accelerated growth. ‘Nothing really has been fixed,’ said Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank. … Lawmakers postponed tough decisions on government spending, giving themselves a reprieve from cuts that were scheduled to start taking effect automatically Jan. 1.”
Gallup: Americans Believe 2013 Will Be A “Year Of Economic Difficulty” By 2-1 Margin
According to Gallup, Americans “Americans believe by almost a 2-1 margin that 2013 will be a year of economic difficulty rather than a year of prosperity. … The 65% of Americans who predict 2013 will be a year of economic difficulty is one of the more negative responses to this question since Gallup first asked it in 1965. There has been, however, a great deal of fluctuation over that time period, from a high of 65% who said 1965 would be a year of prosperity, to a low of 7% who predicted 1974 would be a year of prosperity.”
Samuelson: Fiscal Cliff “a massive failure of presidential leadership”
Robert J. Samuelson editorializes in The Washington Post, “The ‘fiscal cliff’ is a massive failure of presidential leadership. The tedious and technical negotiations are but a subplot in a larger drama. Government can no longer fulfill all the promises it has made to various constituencies. Some promises will be reduced or disavowed. Which ones? Why? Only the president can pose these questions in a way that starts a national conversation over the choices to be made, but doing so requires the president to tell people things they don’t want to hear. That’s his job: to help Americans face unavoidable, if unpleasant, realities. Barack Obama has refused to play this role.”
“Nothing Is Certain Except More Debt and Taxes”
David Malpass editorializes in The Wall Street Journal, “Whatever ultimately emerges from the fiscal-cliff negotiations over the past 48 hours, the country will survive. But the damage can’t be undone. Taxes are going up for all working Americans. And so is the size of government. Businesses have been waiting to see whether a second Obama administration will encourage the economy. During the fiscal-cliff negotiations, however, the president made clear that his goal isn’t to get business going again but instead to expand government and redistribute income. He offered no real spending cuts and instead used the year-end deadline to divide America into classes—to the point of campaigning on New Year’s Eve against higher earners.”
“Obama insisted on sequester buy down in final fiscal cliff deal”
CNN reports, “Fiscal cliff negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders involved late-night discussions in the Oval Office and an ultimate hardline from President Barack Obama, according to a source familiar with the process. … The source said it was the president who insisted the final deal include a pay down on the sequester, and a tax increase that hit individuals making at least $400,000 a year and $450,000 for households. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell started negotiations at $750,000, and then moved to $550,000 before giving in and agreeing to $450,000 for households.”
“House pulls plug on Sandy aid bill”
Politico reports, “House Republicans abruptly pulled the plug Tuesday night on their promise to take up this week an emergency supplemental disaster aid bill for Northeast states damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The decision is a stunning reversal since just hours before New Jersey lawmakers were preparing for floor debate Wednesday as outlined under a strategy promoted by no less than Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). … Absent a change of heart, the upshot now is that the Senate bill will die with this Congress on Thursday at noon.”
TechCrunch – Quick! What’s Sony’s current high-end Android phone? Anyone? Yeah, Sony has a problem with brand recognition, one it likely hopes will be resolved with a big CES debut next week. While that could still happen, Sony’s Japanese press site just prematurely posted pics of the Xperia Z “Yuga” and the Xperia ZL “Odin”. And, surprisingly, the phones actually look worth remembering.
Sony, and before that, Sony Ericsson, has long floundered about in the mobile waters. Besides the Sony Ericsson gaming phone, none have been particularly interesting. Somehow Sony manages to make forgettable phones even though past models looked great and packed top-notch specs. Hopefully, and I mean that, these upcoming phones will hit the market with a bit more pizzazz.